Researchers Develop Wearable, Low-Cost Sensor to Measure Skin Hydration

Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) have developed a wearable, wireless sensor that can monitor a person's skin hydration for use in applications that need to detect dehydration before it poses a health problem. The device is lightweight, flexible, and stretchable and has already been incorporated into prototype devices that can be worn on the wrist or as a chest patch. "It's difficult to measure a person's hydration quantitatively, which is relevant for everyone from military personnel to athletes to firefighters, who are at risk of health problems related to heat stress when training or in the field," says John Muth, Ph.D., a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State and co-corresponding author of a paper describing the work. "We have developed technology that allows us to track an individual's skin hydration in real time," says Yong Zhu, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State and co-corresponding author of the paper. "Our sensor could be used to protect the health of people working in hot conditions, improve athletic performance and safety, and to track hydration in older adults or in medical patients suffering from various conditions. It can even be used to tell how effective skin moisturizers are for cosmetics." The paper, "A Wearable Hydration Monitor with Conformal Nanowire Electrodes," was published online on January 27, 2017 in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials. In addition to Dr. Muth and Dr. Zhu, the paper was co-authored by Amanda Myers and Abhishek Malhotra, Ph.D. students at NC State; Dr. Feiyan Lin, a former graduate student at NC State; and Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State.
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